THESE REMARKS WERE MADE BY DR. PATRICIA MARKS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF MEETING GROUND, AT SERVICES HELD AT TRINITY UNITED METHODIST CHURCH IN CHESAPEAKE CITY, MARKING THE NATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER, MAY 5, 2016:
As most of you know, Meeting Ground coordinates the Emergency Rotating Shelter which provides shelter to those most in need during the winter season. The Emergency Rotating Shelter relies heavily on volunteers: volunteers to drive the van, to cook and serve dinners, to oversee the evening activities, and to spend the nights. This effort takes thousands of hours during the winter season. In past years, we have noted that volunteers donated more than 8,000 hours each winter. We recognize that this is an underestimate of the number of hours because volunteers forget to sign in when they arrive at the shelter and they often do not log in all the preparation they do before they arrive or the follow up they do. So, sadly, much of the effort is not documented.
I think about the impact of the volunteers—about the time, the meals cooked and served, and the fact that folks had a warm and safe place to be for the night. Then I recall the mornings where I listened as the guests arrived at the Mary Randall Center and talked about the night before. They spoke of being grateful for the meals—some of which were gourmet—and the safety and security of the shelter. Most often they spoke of the hospitality and spirit of the volunteers. The guests spoke of feeling special because of the welcoming actions of the volunteers. The guests were most grateful when the volunteers listened, fellowshipped, and shared their common spirit.
And thus, I pray:
Dear good and gracious God,
Thank you for the spirit of volunteerism, for the hundreds of volunteers in our community, and the many ways in which they realize your kingdom.
Lord, only you know the thousands of ways that volunteers are engaged in your work each day, in every facet of our community—in our schools, churches, non-profit organizations, volunteer fire companies, and civic organizations. The ways of engagement are myriad and the effects miraculous.
Lord, we bless the volunteers. Not only their willing hands, but all the parts of their bodies as they serve as your incarnate body.
Bless their feet—for coming and going whenever and wherever needed.
Bless their knees—bent in prayer on our behalf.
Bless their backbone—for standing up for what is right and good.
Bless their lap—for being a safe place for children and the wounded of all ages.
Bless their hearts—for healing and sharing.
Bless their arms—for carrying people as well as needed materials.
Bless their eyes—for seeing what needs to be done and seeing how the future will be.
Bless their mind—for the many decisions they make to create a more loving and just community.
Bless their ears—for hearing the cry of the orphan and widows and those in pain.
Bless their mouths—as they speak love and power into lives who have lost both.
Lord, bless them completely—bless their whole being for it is that which they truly give—not just their time or their talent—They give themselves. And give themselves completely.
LORD, help us to be ever grateful for this complete giving of time, of grace, of self.